Correction: This story misspelled the first name of Gray Frederickson. The story has been corrected.
OKLAHOMA CITY — Steve Largent and J.C. Watts will be among the eight people inducted into the Oklahoma Hall of Fame this year, it was announced Thursday.
Joining them is John T. Nickel, who started Greenleaf Nursery Co. and Wholesale on Lake Tenkiller and donated thousands of acres of land to The Nature Conservancy.
Both Largent and Watts had legendary football careers before serving as congressmen.
Largent, of Tulsa, played for the University of Tulsa. For 14 years, he was a record-setting receiver with the Seattle Seahawks, and he is a member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
He served four terms in Congress from Oklahoma’s First District.
Largent spoke of his love for the people of Oklahoma.
He said he wanted to be remembered as a guy who was raised in red dirt, played football and was “just kind of a normal guy.”
Largent said it is a responsibility to be a leader. “You have to know where you are going to lead,” he said.
He said entering the Oklahoma Hall of Fame was something he never thought about, calling it a “high honor.”
Watts, who was raised in Eufaula and lives in Norman, played quarterback for the University of Oklahoma. After leading the team to back-to-back Orange Bowl victories, he was drafted by the New York Jets but signed with the Ottawa Rough Riders of the Canadian Football League. After five seasons, he returned to Oklahoma.
He is a former Oklahoma Corporation Commission member and served eight years in Congress representing the Fourth District.
“I think every good house has to have a foundation, and that foundation for me started in Eufaula, Oklahoma,” Watts said.
He said courage is the most significant ingredient to becoming a good leader.
He said many would say the strength of the state is the oil and gas industry, agriculture or aerospace.
“But the strength of Oklahoma, I think, has always been its people,” Watts said. “It is you and me and us and our hopes, our ideas and our dreams.”
Nickel was born in Muskogee and lives in Tulsa. Greenleaf Nursery Co. is one of the nation’s largest wholesale producers of shrubs and trees, with locations Oklahoma, Texas and North Carolina.
Nickel donated 14,000 acres to The Nature Conservancy. Nestled in the rolling Cookson Hills, The J.T. Nickel Family Nature and Wildlife Preserve is the largest privately protected conservation area in the Ozarks.
Also being inducted are James Day, Pond Creek; Tricia Everest, Oklahoma City; Gray Frederickson, Oklahoma City; and John Herrington, Wetumka.
Allen Wright, the Choctaw Nation principal chief from 1866 to 1870, will be inducted posthumously.
“Being inducted into the Oklahoma Hall of Fame is Oklahoma’s highest honor,” said Shannon L. Rich, president and CEO of the Oklahoma Hall of Fame and Gaylord-Pickens Museum. “The recognition of our state’s greatest asset — our people — is the foundation upon which our organization was created.”
The Oklahoma Hall of Fame was founded in 1927 to honor Oklahomans in their lifetime and to educate youth about the state’s history.
The Gaylord-Pickens Museum is the home of the Oklahoma Hall of Fame. It opened in 2007.
The honorees will be inducted at the Cox Convention Center in Oklahoma City on Nov. 21.
Learn more about snakes in Oklahoma from Aaron Goodwin, a 20-year zookeeper at the Tulsa Zoo.